MICHAEL VAZ, MERCES
When India was poised for a final clash with the minnows Bangladesh in the Under-19 World Cup final in South Africa very few people might have expected that the four time champions would meet with such fighting challenge by the Asian Tigers in the low scoring match giving them victory by 3 wickets. This is not the first time that Bangladesh has proved to be the nemesis for India, for we cannot forget that in the 2007 ODI World Cup in the West Indies, it was India’s defeat to the lowly rated Bangladesh in the preliminary round that knocked us out of the contest and we had to prematurely bid farewell to the trophy. We need to view the contest a bit meticulously for it was Bangladesh’s maiden entry in the Under-19 finals, which took off in 1988 but was halted for ten years and resumed in 1998 and has been played every alternate year since then. With this triumph for Bangladesh three Asian countries have etched their names on this trophy, the others being India winning it a record four times and Pakistan winning twice. Even Sri Lanka has entered the finals once though without success. It goes to substantiate the steady rise of Asian countries in international cricket. Even in the ODI World Cup the performance of the Asian countries is evidently the best. India has won this cup twice in 1983 and 2011, followed by Pakistan in 1992 and Sri Lanka in 1996, which goes to prove that three of the five cricket playing nations in Asia have won the trophy compared to all the other countries wherein only Australia have won five times, West Indies winning the two inaugural events in 1975 and 1979 and England winning it in 2019. Interestingly New Zealand entered the finals only once during the epic clash with England in 2019. Even more strangely another cricketing giant South Africa is yet to enter the finals of a World Cup. Remarkably, even Afghanistan which was inducted into world cricket only recently has been quite impressive. All these happenings clearly illustrate that Asian countries though entering the cricket arena much later compared to others like England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand have earned much greater laurels in this game.